Thursday, 18 June 2020 11:24

Pee Dee Electric invests in the area’s future

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The land for the new facility is in the center of the photo between Vintage Road in Lilesville and Highway 74. The new industrial park will be located directly across on U.S. Highway 74. Having one office will allow the not-for-profit electric cooperative to streamline business operations, saving money through cost efficiencies, while providing even better service to members. The land for the new facility is in the center of the photo between Vintage Road in Lilesville and Highway 74. The new industrial park will be located directly across on U.S. Highway 74. Having one office will allow the not-for-profit electric cooperative to streamline business operations, saving money through cost efficiencies, while providing even better service to members. Pee Dee Electric

WADESBORO — Not-for-profit electric cooperative Pee Dee Electric is looking to the future as it announces plans for a new industrial park and co-op facility to be located on U.S. Highway 74, near Vintage Road in Lilesville and the I73/74 Rockingham Bypass being built nearby. Pee Dee recently completed the purchase of 70 acres for the industrial park and 50 acres across the road for a new facility to be completed in 2022.

“This is an investment in the future of the local area, as well as Pee Dee Electric,” said Donnie Spivey, Pee Dee Electric’s CEO and EVP. “Anson County has been in need of land and infrastructure to attract new business and industry. Our Board of Directors has had an ongoing discussion about an industrial park in the county as a way to create jobs and spur economic activity,” said Spivey. “Right now, we need new jobs more than ever before,” he continued.

“At the same time, we’ve been examining the need for a new, centrally-located facility for the cooperative. When this land became available with its location and proximity to the new highway, it presented an opportunity for land for both an industrial park and a new facility for Pee Dee Electric,” said Spivey. “Action needed to be taken now in order to secure this investment before it was no longer an option and the land and construction costs would be higher than currently projected.”

An extensive study of Pee Dee’s facilities in 2019 by an outside firm recommended that the cooperative transition from its two offices, built around 40 years ago, to one centrally-located office within the cooperative’s seven-county service area. This includes parts of Anson, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties. Pee Dee has grown from serving 11,737 meters when the Wadesboro office was built in 1978 to more than 21,000 meters.

“A new facility will allow Pee Dee to better secure our power delivery support system, integrate new technologies, be more energy efficient, offer employees a layout to help them work more efficiently, improve safety, allow room for future growth, and most importantly, offer an even better service experience for members,” said Spivey. “The new approach will also allow us to streamline our business operations, saving money through cost efficiencies, as we move from two sets of facilities, such as two warehouses, to one central facility.”

The new facility will include a customer service center, operations and engineering facility, a warehouse, fleet parking, dispatch center, a hardened secure data center, and administrative offices for the cooperative’s 66 employees.

A member services area and drive-thru will be available for Pee Dee members who want to continue to drive to the office, once it’s completed in 2022. The cooperative is exploring payment centers and kiosks, which would allow members to pay at various locations throughout the service area.

“We’ve seen a change with COVID-19 as more and more members chose to do business with the cooperative online or over the phone,” said Spivey. “And with a more centrally-located office, we can organize outage responses more quickly.”

The Cooperative Finance Corporation will provide financing with a 30-year fixed interest rate of around 3 percent. Proceeds from the sale of the Rockingham and Wadesboro offices would be used to pay toward the loan. However, those offices will remain open until the new facility is completed.

Pee Dee Electric is working with Anson County, the local economic developer, and the state to expand sewer infrastructure to the industrial site. This will make the area even more attractive for residential and commercial development. As the land is rezoned from farmland to industrial use, the tax benefits will mean more revenue to help area schools and services.

This is not the first time Pee Dee Electric has energized job creation in the area. In January 2019, the cooperative announced it had secured nearly $1 million through the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program. Pee Dee provided the funding to Richmond County Economic Development for the construction of a shell building in the Rockingham West Industrial park off of Highway 74. Shell buildings are used by economic developers to entice industry and manufacturing prospects to the area because of the ability to quickly start operations.

“This partnership with Pee Dee has been an overwhelming success,” said Martie Butler, Richmond County management analyst/economic developer. “We currently have five new industries thanks to the successful partnership and the shell building program,” she explained. “A new industrial park in the region will benefit the entire area. When it comes to bringing new jobs to the region, everyone wins.”